Realism In Recorded Music And Sound For The Moving Image

Paul Théberge & Simon Zagorski-Thomas
Public Lecture & Discussion
Friday 25th March, 4.00p.m. in TC102 at Thames Valley University
St. Mary’s Road, Ealing, London W5 5RF

Paul Théberge and Simon Zagorski-Thomas will discuss the question of realism in recorded music and sound for the moving image. Dr. Paul Théberge of Carleton University, Ottawa is the Canada Research Chair in Technological Mediations of Culture and author of “Any Sound You Can Imagine”. Dr. Simon Zagorski-Thomas of the London College of Music, TVU is Chairman of the Association for the Study of the Art of Record Production.

Paul Théberge will talk about Sounds, Studios and Screens – Studios as Dreamworlds.

“The notion of ‘realism’ that pervades cinema aesthetics is an ideology that conceals the fact that the work of the sound studio is not so much a work of mimesis as a work of the imagination. In a sense, while sound engineers work with recorded sounds, they imagine something else and realize those sounds in the studio – the studio is the first place where these sounds are truly “heard.” Sound work in the studio operates by means of analogy; its aim is a tactile proximity; editing, enhancement, processing and mixing are its basic techniques; music is ubiquitous, appears to emanate from unseen sources, and inhabits a virtual space of its own. The sounds become “real” in relation to images and narration but, ultimately, the combined effect of this process on audiences is as much material as it is meaningful. If cinema is a ‘dreamworld’, then the studio is where the dream begins.”

Simon Zagorski-Thomas will talk about the idea of Sonic Cartoons.

“Very little recorded music is realistically staged and we’re all very used to the hyper-real, ‘larger than life’ sound of contemporary popular music and cinema sound. The staging of recorded music has evolved in conjunction with both musical and technological changes and one of the characteristics of this evolution has been the emergence of techniques that exaggerate particular features. Just as visual cartoonists will highlight one or two features to represent some complex phenomenon, sonic cartoons do the same. The notion from the 1950s that a good recording should sound as it would in the best seats in a concert hall has been substantially altered by notions of clarity, high fidelity and atmosphere.”

This event is one of a series organised by the Sound in Media Culture research network and funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

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